From Grace to Grass: The BlackBerry Example

Once the toast of everyone who wanted a phone that represented class, the BlackBerry has since lost its pride of place as the darling of millions around the world when it comes to mobile phones.

The “Humpty-Dumpty” phenomenon that befell Blackberry is one that still baffles many. The dwindled fortunes of the erstwhile tech giants is a clear example of what happens when a brand swims too long in the waters of complacency.

The Blackberry story is one that every brand should learn from. But how exactly did this fall happen, and more importantly, why?

Without further ado, these are the factors responsible for the failure of BlackBerry;

Wrong strategy and vision: Blackberry failed to anticipate that the mobile phone market will become consumer driven as opposed to continually being corporate driven. Even though it was the cream of the crop amongst mobile phones at the time, its inability to strategize effectively and evolve after dominating the corporate market is one of the reasons it has gone into oblivion today.

Failure to Innovate: The consumer-technology market was fast evolving and while the likes of Apple and Samsung were coming up with new designs such as touchscreens to improve customer experience, upgraded their mobile phones to install apps and incorporated many entertainment features, Blackberry remained stuck in the world of Qwerty keyboards and served as purely communication and email enabled devices.

The Apple and Android Explosion: When Apple hit the market with their sleek and elegant designs, it became obvious that the only way for Blackberry was south. The touchscreen also made the Apple handset easier to use, and many quickly opted for it as they found it more fashion forward as opposed to Blackberry keyboards which translated to throbbing thumbs after long usage. And for those who found Apple too expensive, they had an alternative in Android phones which were far cheaper but possessed many of the attributes that made the iPhone cool.

Internal Wrangling Within the Board: The turning point for Research In Motion, (the company that produced the Blackberry phones) came when one time Co-CEO, Jim Balsille quit the board when he butted heads with some other members of the board over the new direction of the Blackberry brand. At a time when all hands should have been on deck to help to take Blackberry to the next level, things fell apart.

However, out of all the factors that resulted in Blackberry’s extinction, the inability to innovate is unarguably the one major factor that resulted in the downfall of the once loved brand.

Just like Yahoo, Blackberry was blinded by their own success; an exaggerated opinion of self that saw them ignoring the touchscreen based technology and opting to continue with the keyboard even when it was apparent it was no longer attractive to users.

And like Xerox, MySpace, Kodak and Polaroid that went bankrupt due to innovation lag, Blackberry is yet another poster child for how not to manage market leadership as a brand.